The Power of User Research in Creating Effective Documentation: Why it’s Worth the Investment

Many people overlook user research, but it is critical.
Why? Folks don’t want to spend the money and time.

It is an investment, but documentation is a product. User research ensures that you create the best documentation for your target personas.

You can find out information such as:

• Is the documentation well-organized for the target personas? Can users find the information they need, and is it easy to consume?
• Are there gaps in the documentation?
• Can users perform the tasks as described in the documentation?
• Is the terminology appropriate for the target personas?

I learned a lot about user research from working with UX folks. I was lucky to be able to consult folks like Leah Herman and Hina Shah, Ph.D. , when I had questions.

Some user research projects I have worked on were:

• Researching the pain points in a complex installation documentation set. This phased project started with interviewing an Implementation team to understand their pain points when doing implementations. We came away with several recommendations, such as a master install document and a plan for continued research.
• Performing card sorts with data scientists to determine how to organize the topics in a user guide better.
• Performing card sorts with system admins to determine how to organize the topics in a user guide better.
• An A/B test of internal release notes that helped us simplify the content for consumption by solution architects and others.

All these projects resulted in better documentation. And isn’t that the goal?

See the post on LinkedIn.

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